March 1, 2010

5 Things To Do in Boston in Winter

Boston "Bah-stan" More Than Chow-dah: I just came back from a cold and snowy week in Boston. There were wonderful highlights and surprises but we also had some disappointments. If I was to give advice to anyone who wants to visit Boston during the winter, it would be these five tips:

  1. Walk through Beacon Hill
  2. Ice Skate on Frog Pond
  3. Skip going into Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market
  4. Grab a drink at Top of the Hub
  5. Take a camera on the 2.5 mile trek along the Freedom Trail

Boston is the sister city to San Francisco which makes me happy but it suffers from similar issues. Faneuil Hall (pronounced "Fan-yule") and Quincy Market on paper are important in history, however today they are full of tourist trinkets made in China and poor food choices. You are better off either ignoring them or just taking a photo of the exterior buildings. Treat yourself with an extra photo next to the giant statue of Revolutionary Patriot Sam Adams, and famous brewmaster.

With the frozen waters around Boston comes the fun activity of outdoor ice skating! Living on the west coast we only see this on occasion, when we have the Holiday Ice Rink at Embarcadero Center in San Francisco. This temporary rink comes from corporate sponsorship. It is a different story in Boston. The Frog Pond at Boston Common, bordering Beacon Street and the Cheers bar, has an ice rink open from November to mid-March. It is only $4 to skate for adults and $8 for skate rentals. You are in America's oldest public park and surrounded by beautiful landscape.

All along Charles Street on Beacon Hill there are great shops and historic architecture. This is the oldest neighborhood in Boston. We found lots of antique shops and cool businesses selling period furniture and fixtures. Gas lamps are still being used, and many townhouses still have iron boot scrappers on the front entryway. It is easy to walk this area without fear of getting lost, most streets lead eventually to a famous landmark it seems. We wound our way through the streets until we came to the State House and its golden dome.

Walking the Freedom Trail in winter can be daunting, between the cold wind and icy temperatures even if you don't have snow falling. You are rewarded by seeing American history up close and personal. Making the 2.5 miles along the red brick trail can be done in winter if you bundle up and plan to stop along the way for something warm to drink.

Finally as a well deserved treat and unique perspective, getting a night cap at the Top of the Hub in the Prudential Center building is a great idea. The food is fine but again reminds me of some of the more dated restaurants in San Francisco that is more hype than substance. You are better off having a drink and soaking up the grand views from every window! You can walk around the entire floor and see the city skyline from end to end. Even in the dark we could see snow covered Fenway Park, just waiting for spring a Red Sox game!

All photos by Sharon Castellanos

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